July 27, 2017

Michael Tönnies and the Fastest Hattrick in Bundesliga History

Mario Gomez scored a six minute hattrick against Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal semifinal, an incredible feat considering he had just 6 touches on the ball in his 10 minutes on the pitch.  It’s hard to believe but there was actually a Bayern player who scored a hattrick even quicker in the Cup, namely Carsten Jancker who did it in five minutes back in 1997 against amateur club DJK Waldberg.

The fastest Bundesliga hatrick in history, though, belongs to MSV Duisburg’s Michael Tönnies.  The former striker accomplished that feat on August 27 during the 1991/92 season.  Duisburg’s opponents on that day was Karlsruher SC who featured a 22-year-old Oliver Kahn in goal. KSC were without Mehmet Scholl on the day but most still expected them to get some kind of a result against 15th placed Duisburg.  Suffice to say, not many would have expected them to go down 3-0 in the space of just five minutes. Thanks to Tönnies though, that’s exactly what happened. He ended up scoring five goals in that game and his five-minute hattrick has yet to be matched.

Although KSC had the first chance of the match Duisburg struck first 10 minutes in.  Vladimir Liutyi, on loan from Schalke, floated in a beautiful chipped pass to an unmarked Tönnies who slotted the ball right under Kahn. Two minutes later it was again Liutyi who played provider when he sent in a cross that Tönnies acrobatically reached by turning direction and finishing with a fantastic bicycle kick into the far right corner.  Two goals in two minutes.  Surely he couldn’t get a third? Well, he did. three minutes later Duisburg found its way past KSC’s fullbacks and played the ball into space just as Tönnies pulled away from his marker to make it three.  History was made then and there with Kahn wondering how something like that could have happened.

Although his record stood the test of time his life after football took quite a tragic turn for Tönnies. He started a restaurant soon after he retired but started facing financial problems that led him to take a job with his father’s cleaning company.  All the while, his health started deteriorating because of his continuous smoking and alcohol abuse.  Tönnies was not just an avid smoker, but had a deadly addiction, even admitting that he used to smoke up to 80 cigarettes a day and despite doctor’s orders to stop he never brought himself to do so.

Several years later he was diagnosed with a terminal lung illness that put him on an oxygen tank without which blood wouldn’t circulate properly through his body.  Almost completely immobilized and suffering from anxiety, Tönnies relied on a potential lung transplant surgery to improve.  Luckily after a 13-year wait he was able to get it at a hospital in Hannover earlier this year and since has been feeling better.  Duisburg meanwhile have not forgotten Tönnies and still march out onto the field with banners in his support.  Before his surgery they even organized a benefit match to raise money for Tönnies, to which Bayern president Uli Hoeness also donated 10,000  Euros.

Still, Tönnies is and will always be a Duisburg legend.  His league-leading 29 goals in 1990/91 got Duisburg promoted and he was also the top scorer in the third division on three occasions.  Prior to that he won the German amateur football championship and twice the Oberliga Nordrhein (what now constitutes the fourth tier of German football).  In 171 games for Duisburg, Tönnies scored a remarkable 101 but few are more famous than that August night.

For now, enjoy one of Duisburg’s finest Bundesliga performances and a record that will forever live in the memories of German football fans.

Header courtesy of © Bongarts/GettyImages

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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari

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